VOD: The Machine

Everyone loves movies about sexy artificial intelligence. Check out our review of The Machine.

"You don't know where that
hand has been!!!" 
The relationship between man and machine has often been explored in the realm of film making—so much so that it has become cliché. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is both an exhilarating and terrifying concept as it could either be the savior of mankind or its ultimate downfall. Director Caradog W. James’ film The Machine is a very good attempt to freshen up the genre; however, it’s one of the most uneven films I have ever seen.

The Machine has a simple premise: two scientists create a self-aware AI for the military and implant it into a robot body. This plot has been done to death in sci-fi films and it’s not presented in a particularly groundbreaking manner here either. It serves its purpose in getting the characters from Point A to Point B, with some small twists and turns along the way, but it won’t win any awards for originality. The acting is uneven at times with Toby Stephens putting in the best performance as the brilliant scientist who cultivates the AI. Everyone else in the film seem to be phoning in their performances, which gives it a B movie or direct-to-video vibe throughout. 

"I really hate the dentist!"
By this point in the review you must think I hate this film, but here is where it gets interesting—the special effects look absolutely amazing! The Machine was made with a small budget (less than a million dollars) but it looks much more expensive than that. The futuristic atmosphere is extremely well-realized and has high tech gear juxtaposed with a more grounded and gritty urban feel. Everything is sleek and minimalistic, with cool touchscreen displays and interesting interfaces. Interestingly enough, the real star of the show is the AI infused machine that they create. The humanoid robot looks awesome and is what makes this film worth watching. It pulsates and glows from within, allowing us to see its circuits crisscrossing throughout its body, and its child-like personality is endearing. This is where the movie shines and the director’s vision is realized fully.

I was torn giving this film its final score because while the acting and story are very mediocre, the look, feel, and musical score of the film are outstanding. I wish they had put in just a little more effort to make The Machine truly original because they could have had something special. It just seems like a wasted effort and ultimately makes the film somewhat forgettable. The robot and special effects are worth giving this film a rental at least and it has some entertainment value for sci-fi movie fans.

-Michelle Kisner